What role does the American State play in the development and content of US government and politics? The US has conventionally been described as different to other countries in that its Central State is smaller and less important. I challenge this view. Second, this challenge is made by providing an account of the main ways in which the American State has developed since the middle of the twentieth century to deal with the demands for democratization (principally the extension of civil rights to groups historically denied them) and for national security (principally the need to defend the US abroad and at home). This account will demonstrate that the US in fact has a strong and centralized State not massively dissimilar from other industrial democracies. Thirdly, the research will result in a set of qualitative and quantitative indicators about what the American State does through its public policies, particularly in using national regulations to set standards for policy implementation. The study should demonstrate how these standard setting activities fluctuate within each policy area: for instance, education policy has historically been local but is now quite centralized through a regime of testing; conversely welfare policy was the subject of increasing central standards from the 1950s until 1996 since when responsibility for standards has reverted to the states.
Why does the fate of the political successors of defunct authoritarian regimes vary so dramatically across contemporary democracies? While in some countries, neo-authoritarian parties and groups —for example the neo-Nazis in the Federal Republic of Germany and the neo-Communists in the Czech Republic— are legally prosecuted and barred from participating in public life, in others they are treated leniently and sometimes even included in political coalitions. This project analyzes the causes of this variation with a comparative study of post-Fascist European democracies. Notwithstanding their common political heritage, these cases display the entire range of policy variation towards “successor” extremism observable elsewhere. Thus they offer an ideal terrain for focused comparison, while at the same time potentially yielding important lessons for the broader universe of post-authoritarian democracies. The project relies on new socio-economic, political, legal and judicial comparative data covering all Western European countries.
Gwendolyn Sasse is a partner in this major EU Framework 6 project.
During the series of wars and ethnic conflicts with serious human rights violations and ethnic cleansing in ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the international community reacted through crisis management. Nevertheless, the EU is still faced with unresolved problems, and the question of how to deal with the problem of accommodating ethnic and territorial claims in order to prevent spill-over effects in forms of new conflicts and refugees in the region itself and into the EU. The overall objective of the project is to analyse which status human and minority rights did and do have in all phases of ethnic conflicts, and, finally, in the phase of reconstruction and reconciliation. As a parallel process the development of the EU foreign policy and its shift from reactive crisis management to regional stabilisation and association with the prospect of full EU-membership will be analysed.
In the fall of 2009, OCSID launched the first phase of the three-year research initiative, The Politics of the Economic Crisis, in coordination with Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies at Princeton University. Principal investigators and coordinators of the initiative are Larry Bartels, Donald E. Stokes Professor of Public and International Affairs, and Jonas Pontusson, professor of politics, both at Princeton University, and Nancy Bermeo, the Nuffield Professor of Comparative Politics at Oxford University.
The project focuses on exploring and explaining how a variety of democratic political systems respond to the current economic crisis. The investigation seeks to account for similarities and differences in the policies adopted by different countries and to trace the economic and political effects of those policies.
Scholars from around the globe will convene at Princeton and Oxford University for conferences, seminars, and colloquia that explore government responses to the crisis; the implications of the crisis for varieties of capitalism; and the implications of the crisis for public attitudes, political participation, and partisan politics.
In March 2010, OCSID was involved with organising the first conference in the initiative, 'Governmental Responses to the Economic Crisis in Advanced Industrial States,' held at Princeton University. Click here for conference agenda, participants and papers.
In June of 2011, OCSID will host the second conference of the initiative, “Popular Responses to the Economic Crisis, at Oxford University.